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HC order for pure water at public places

Calcutta, Sept. 6: Calcutta High Court has directed the government to enact a rule making it mandatory to provide pure drinking water at public places.

No such rule exists in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation Act now. And the civic body has no right to take penal action against authorities in schools, colleges, hospitals, railway stations and other public places if the drinking water in their reservoirs is found unfit for consumption.

The green bench of the high court, comprising chief justice A.K. Mathur and Justice J. Biswas, also authorised corporation employees to keep vigil and collect samples of drinking water from public places for tests.

The order added that the corporation would have to take measures against the authority of the public place whose water is found unfit for consumption.

As there is no such provision in the corporation rule yet, the employees of the civic body are not allowed to collect water samples from public places.

During the hearing, the government had submitted a report on the quality of drinking water available at public places in the city but the court declined to accept it as there was no “remark”. It asked the government to furnish a fresh report with details about the quality of drinking water at the places.

The order came on a public interest litigation by environment activist Subhas Dutta, who had submitted a report before the court with results of the tests on water samples collected from several public places, including hospitals and educational institutions in the city.

Tests by competent laboratories like the Institute of Health and Hygiene and the Central Pollution Control Board had concluded that the water in the reservoirs of several public places, including Sealdah station, was not fit for consumption.

When the court asked the civic authorities to file a report in this regard, corporation counsel Alok Ghosh said the civic body supplies drinking water to all the public places in the city. “As some of the water samples from such places were found fit for drinking, it was proved that the water supplied by the civic authority was not impure,” he said.

Ghosh added that water was not being stored properly at places but the corporation had its hands tied as there was no rule allowing it to act against the errant authorities. The court accepted the argument.

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